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Egypt will open 'Bent' Pyramid to the public

TRAVELERS to Egypt will soon be able to explore the inner chambers of the 4,500-year-old "Bent" Pyramid, known for its oddly-shaped profile, Egypt's antiquities chief said yesterday.

The increased access to the pyramid as well as others in the area is part of an Egyptian effort in cooperation with the United Nations to develop the pyramid complex in a sustainable fashion, while preserving the environment and the antiquities.

Egypt's chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass said the 100-meter pyramid outside the village of Dashur, 80 kilometers south of Cairo, will be opened for the first time to tourists within the next "month or two."

"This is going to be an adventure, and this is happening now," said Hawass.

Dashur's Bent Pyramid is famous for its irregular profile. The sides rise at a steep angle, then halfway up the massive structure they abruptly taper off at a more shallow approach to the pyramid's apex.

Archaeologists believe the pyramid's builders changed their minds while constructing it out of fear it might collapse because the sides were too steep.

The nearby Red Pyramid, also built by 4th-dynasty founder Pharoah Sneferu, is already accessible to visitors. Hawass said several other nearby pyramids, including one with an underground labyrinth from the Middle Kingdom, would also be opened in the next year.

"It is amazing because of a maze of corridors underneath this pyramid? the visit will be unique," said Hawass, about the pyramid of Amenhemhat III, who ruled during Egypt's 12th dynasty from 1859-1813 BC.

"Twenty-five years ago, I went to enter this pyramid, and I was afraid I would never come back, and I had to ask the workmen to tie ropes around my leg so I wouldn't lose my way," he recalled.

The Bent Pyramid is entered through a cramped 80-meter tunnel that opens into an immense vaulted chamber. Archaeologists believe the pyramid contains the burial chamber of Pharoah Sneferu.


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